About Me

 

My name is Beth Terry, and I live in Oakland, CA. In June of 2007, while recovering from surgery, I read the article and saw the photo that changed my life. The article was entitled, “Our Oceans Are Turning Into Plastic… Are We?” and the photo showed the carcass of a dead sea bird, its belly full of plastic pieces: bottle caps, cigarette lighters, even a toothbrush. I looked at my own life and realized that through my unconscious overconsumption, I was personally contributing the the suffering of creatures I hadn’t even known existed.

albatross chick carcass dead from eating plastic

That week, I committed to stop buying new plastic, and a passion and blog were born: My Plastic-free Life (known originally as Fake Plastic Fish.)

Finding Alternatives

I’ve been blogging away here ever since, collecting and tallying my own plastic waste (in 2011, my plastic waste was 2% of the U.S. average) and researching plastic-free alternatives (see my ongoing Plastic-Free Guide).   I enjoy reviewing alternative products from ethical companies.  Please see my Advertising/Review/PR policy for more information.

Targeting Companies

Personal responsibility is crucial, and I don’t believe we can solve our plastic problem without it.  But even greater results are achieved when consumers come together to demand change from the corporations that produce the stuff.  From the beginning, I took the time to write and call companies asking for less plastic packaging.  And in 2008, I spearheaded a massive campaign, Take Back The Filter, to ask Clorox to take back its plastic Brita water filter cartridges for recycling, as was already being done by the Brita company in Europe. The campaign was a success for all involved, and Brita filters can now be recycled in the U.S. and Canada.

Collecting Plastic

Living with less plastic is really not as hard as it seems, but our awareness of disposable plastic in our lives can be transformative. To that end, I threw down the gauntlet and invited readers to collect and tally their own plastic waste for a week and upload the results to a new Show Your Plastic Trash web site. How can we know where we need to go if we don’t know where we are to begin with? Solving the plastic pollution problem will require more than individual personal actions. But individual actions and personal awareness are essential for creating the kind of world in which we want to live and the impetus to spark bigger actions.

Presentations

I enjoy giving presentations on living with less plastic and why, despite what critics sometimes say, our personal actions do make a difference.

Plastic Free Book

June 2012 saw the release of my first book, Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too (Skyhorse), a practical guide to ridding your life of plastic.  The book was so successful that the publisher released an updated version in 2015 with a brand new chapter and foreword by the musician Jack Johnson.  Read more about the book and order your copy here.

Other places you’ll find me ranting about plastic around the web:

Twitter: @PlasticfreeBeth
FaceBook:  beth.terry1
YouTube:  Bethfly
Flickr:  FakePlasticFish

Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I’m a lot preachier than I mean to be, and afterwards I feel like a jerk. Really, I’m no different from anyone else who cares about the planet.

Feel free to contact me directly.

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Guilty of Greenwashing – Rocío Jocelyn

[…] people are against the use of plastic in any way, shape or form. Author Beth Terry wrote a book titled Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too. She began […]

Plastic and the 5 R’s: Beginning to Live Waste Free – Project Restore

[…] • Marjorie Alexander, creator of A Sustainable Mind (Episode 007!) • Beth Terry, creator of My Plastic-Free Life • Anne-Marie Bonneau, creator of Zero Waste […]

30 things I want to see, do + achieve in my 30's - Emily Ehlers

[…] can show you all the waste they’ve produced for the entire year in a jar? Here’s one. Here’s another. And once upon a time – I used to be one. Whether it’s parenthood, complacency or both, my […]

Our plastic challenge - Wildlife Articles

[…] I began looking into my life of plastic in 2015 after watching an inspiring and rather horrific TED talk. Angered, I watched more talks online and came across Beth Terry talking about her plastic free life. Her determination to remove plastic entirely from her life was brilliant and refreshing, see her website here https://myplasticfreelife.com/about-me/. […]

Plastica=petrolio/petrolio=plastica – Centro Studi Sereno Regis

[…] *Beth è consulente dell’organizzazione internazionale Plastic Pollution Coalition (https://myplasticfreelife.com/about-me/) […]

Why Say No To Plastic? | Our Green Journey

[…] less plastic. This was confirmed when I found Beth Terry’s blog and the info she has on it. Beth Terry is now known as somewhat of an expert in the area of living a plastic free life, you should go […]

Living Plastic free - Why should we do it? - Yummy Green Mummy

[…] me with their courage to make this their life are: Tammy from Gippsland Unwrapped, Beth Terry from My Plastic free life, and Erin from The Rouge […]

Kudos to you. Thank you for being a voice in this frustrating, nonsensical phenomenon that is our unconscious addiction to plastic. Looking forward to reading your blog and receiving updates.

Dear Beth. Thank you so much for your article and your website. I don’t feel lonely anymore. When I speak about the damages that plastic make around the world and show the same pictures that you have, people look at me like if I was crazy ! But I am willing to pursue my mission, which is to help protect this wonderful planet and make sure that our children and their kids will enjoy it as we did when we were kids.

Recycling | Local Abroad

[…] out My Plastic Free Life. Beth is doing a much better job that I am at cutting plastic waste from her […]

JULY 20, 2014 - Cabrillo Marine Aquarium - Algalita | Marine Research and EducationAlgalita | Marine Research and Education

[…] existed. That week, Beth committed to stop buying new plastic, and a passion and blog were born: My Plastic-free Life (known originally as Fake Plastic […]

BethTerry fritzlinda CRESBI crates are made of virgin polypropylene. I initially looked at using recycled plastic but the strength of that material cannot always be consistent and I wanted CRESBI crates to be the last piece of plastic you’d ever need to buy and also one that was appropriate for food products.  Would love to try making them out of something non-fossil fuel (aluminium? wood?) but they’d need to be something people could afford, that could handle temperature extremes (like being dishwasher safe), and would last forever.

fritzlinda What are the crates made out of?

Thanks for the great tips, I’ll be following you on twitter, Beth!  As a farmer of fresh edamame I’d purchased some collapsible bins to deliver produce in to avoid soggy boxes and ended up coming up with a system for carrying groceries I call CRESBI crates.  It replaces plastic bags and cheap reusable ones (we offer a 10 cent credit towards a CRESBI crate because most reusable bags can’t be recycled and end up in landfills, we weave them into pet rugs or use as “packaging”).  Since most people don’t examine things as deeply as you’ve done the CRESBI crates… Read more »

I am a professor in China, it is welknown that it is getting more and more serious here using plastic. Driving along any way in my living place, plastic bags are lying in the field, and the wind could blow them flying in the air which is not a pleasure.
I like your move and want to do something like you.
Su Bing

Oh My Goodness!! BETH TERRY THANKYOU!! I have just discovered you now.  I, too, was deeply impacted and somewhat transformed when, in about 2010, I learnt about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  I’d long been a waste reduction person at heart since my high school days in the 1990s when I learnt about the rapidly shrinking spaces we have left for dumping rubbish.  I was one of those kids who picked up rubbish on the street just to make sure it got to a recycle bin. However my passion for the subject escalated when, while working as a radio producer… Read more »

@Stevi Thank you!

I am in awe of your site and your amazing list that you generously compiled and shared. I am excited to begin this lifestyle for our planet and hope to help my daughter understand now at an early age (she will be 4 in December) that we need to stop consuming plastic. Thanks.

AMRF Blog » JULY 20, 2014 – DIRECT FROM THE PATCH PANEL

[…] known existed. That week, I committed to stop buying new plastic, and a passion and blog were born: My Plastic-free Life (known originally as Fake Plastic […]

Thoughts on Becoming a Yarn Consumer - Sakeenah

[…] Reviving crochet in my life has changed my habits of consumption. Prior to becoming a yarn addict, I tried hard to avoid buying anything new, joining The Compact for a year and striving to curb my use of plastic – thanks for the inspiration, Beth Terry. […]

Very cool! you are inspiring towards ….. well, everyone. Please check out my environmental website: stegirls.wordpress.com
Thanks!

I also recycle my clothing by re-fashioning, as I call it.  Followed Marissa Lynch’s New Dress a Day website years ago and started doing the very same thing shortly thereafter.  Not being a very good seamstress, I can still alter my own clothing to make it wearable, and have found some great finds at garage sales and thrift stores.  About 70% of my wardrobe is “reused”.  I get bored with things easily, so this is a way to feed my addiction without breaking the bank, or the planet.

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator

@Stevi Would love to see some pics of your re-fashioned clothing. I too enjoy buying my clothes from thrift stores, it’s a lot of fun!

If you want all the information you can possibly absorb on this subject, get on your local library’s website, do a search (which is very easy to do), have your library card ready, and start reading and learning.  I have read hundreds of books on this subject.  As they say, “knowledge is power”.  You will find many similarities between books, which in my opinion, means the facts are true and the research is solid.  Good luck on the road to sustainability!

Good for you!  Me too.  Doing what I can, and “badmouthing” the plastics industry.  I agree with you about the bottled water thing.  Suggest you read “Bottlemania” by Elizabeth Royte (author of Garbage Land…also another good book.)  Lots of eye-opening information to share with others.

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator

@Stevi Love Garbage Land!

I just finished reading “Plastic: A Toxic Love Story” by Susan Freinkel, and she referenced your story and website in her book.  I think what you’re doing is wonderful, and you have my full support.  Over the last few years, being unemployed, I have resorted to reading (from the library of course), anything I can get my hands on related to ecology, simplicity, recycling, politics, and living lightly on the earth.  Over 200 books later, I’ve learned one major thing…our country runs on greed; not on the good of the people or of the planet.  God won’t have to intervene. … Read more »

[…] her efforts in reducing plastics, at least she posted several videos about her on U.S. television. Her aim with the blog is to collect and tally her own plastic waste, research alternatives to plastics and […]

I became aware of the ocean pollution problem when viewing videos on youtube of Capt. Moore. Another one who had my mellow harshed. I have been uncomfortable for years by the prevalent amount of packaging in stores but didn’t quite make the connection to the ocean. I always thought plastc bags were a bad idea as well as plastic bottles for drinks. We are so awashed with it it’s almost unavoidable.  Recently I began shopping at Whole Foods where I can buy milk in glass returnable bottles and meat packaged in butcher paper.  These are the small but steady changes… Read more »
DIY Plastic-Free Deodorant « Trash Backwards

[…] I went looking for plastic-free, safe, and effective deodorant, I turned first to Beth Terry and her Plastic-free Living Guide at her incredible blog My Plastic-free Life. Following her […]

It’s awesome what you’re doing, congratulations!

The picture you show is quite unbelievable. It shows a bird skeleton packed full of plastic, so full in fact that there would no longer be any place for the other internal organs. The only plausible explanation is that  the plastic were placed there by somebody before taking the picture. The cause to eliminate plastic is good but to make fraudulent photos to prove it is very evil indeed.

Hi! I just had a quick question– in the short guide to plastic living on your home page, you mentioned using a bin for your compost that was made of RECYCLED plastic. Do recycled plastics still contain Bisphenol A? I use bags made from recycled plastic bottles to carry groceries; should I start avoiding those too? Thanks!

Plastics In The Great Lakes | Moms Clean Air Force

[…] can you do to prevent plastic pollution in the Great Lakes? Inspired by Beth Terry, I’ve given up my facial scrub that contained those “scrubbing beads” and traded it in […]

HI Beth, 
I love your sight we are busy spreading the word in the UK and your sight is full of brilliant ideas, suggestions and articles. Thank you from http://www.ecotales.co.uk

I used to think that all plastic could be recycled so I put it all in the recycle box, but, then I found out they only accept some things and the rest is to be put in the garbage, it makes me feel sick, it’s wrong, so I have been trying to come up with ideas to reuse the plastic and find ways to use less. I have been reusing plastic boxs and other things for about 20 years, I buy lot’s of second hand things for my home and business, I reuse as much as possible to create my… Read more »

Dear Beth,
 
Only thing that comes to mind bout your site is to paraphrase the song and say “I been waiting for a site like this”
While in the past couple of years I have made strides in my lifestyle by reducing my direct and indirect carbon and plastic footprint, i sure needed a site like yours, motivate me to fine-tune some plastic aspects of my life.
 
I sure will make sure to send you site info to as many ppl in my circle as they would listen.
 
Thank you again.
 
NIck

You have inspired me to collaborate with the people in my community and start a new environmental drive out here! Thank you so much, Beth! 
 

 @LiveGreen Agree with you! Thanks Beth!

Book Review – Kicking The Plastic Habit – Author Beth Terry | Best Of Mother Earth

[…] Beth Terry’s book: Plastic Free :: How I Kicked The Plastic Habit And How You Can Too is an honest, practical and tremendously resourceful guide about ridding ourselves of the evils of plastic in our lives. […]

Here is the response I recieved from Highwood Crossing. <<<<   Thank you very much for your email and for your on-going support of our organic products. We appreciate hearing about how our customers use the items we make and how we can improve our products and service to you.    The packaging issue that you raise, is something that we also struggle with on a regular basis…   The challenge that we face is trying to find an environmentally friendly container that is reasonably priced, will keep our products fresh, transports well and looks good on the store shelf.… Read more »
Plastic, Plastic Everywhere And In Our Air | Moms Clean Air Force

[…] is a guest post by Beth Terry, author of Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can […]

Now I’ve done it and it is all your fault. <g>   Before I read your book, it always annoyed me that a company selling organic products would have the nerve to use plastic packaging. After reading your book, I e-mailed Highwood Crossing, http://www.highwoodcrossing.com and using your example, complemented them on their great cereals and then said I wonder why a company who makes a fantastic organic product would even think about packaging in plastic and that my experience with their product would be even better if the plastic packaging was replaced with plain paper packaging.   This is so… Read more »

I really enjoyed your book–totally inspirational.  I was at a grocery store cafe for lunch today and later at an outdoor restaurant for dinner.  This evening I emailed both about their use of disposable plastic cups.  For the cafe I used your section on bioplastics to discuss how the “compostable” label is misleading, and for the restaurant I requested in a nice way that they consider nondisposable cups for their very yummy drinks.  And I mentioned your book to both.  Thank you, now I am obsessed.  ;)

Wow.  I have just found your blog today.  What an amazing journey you are on.  I have found this very inspirational.  I am always striving to use less myself.  Thank you for sharing your knowledge.  I will be reading your blog and book from now on.

LOVE YOU!!!

Beth,
 
Just listened to your “Living On Earth” interview, and I’d say you are right on target.  What an insightful and meaningful action to take in reducing your plastic consumption.  And by making the additional effort to go public through talks and your book, I believe you display considerable courage in our wasteful society. You are certainly swimming upstream, against the current, so to speak.  Brava!  Let’s hope that many others take notice of your example and decide to follow suit.  
 
Best wishes for success wrought by your efforts,
Susan Bernat
NYC 
 

DIY Plastic-Free Deodorant | Rock Farmer

[…] I went looking for plastic-free, safe, and effective deodorant, I turned first to Beth Terry and her Plastic-free Living Guide at her incredible blog My Plastic-free Life. Following her […]

You’re obsessed. But you’re also great. Well done! 

As single-use plastic goes so goes the planet – a lunchboxy photo essay « A World of Words

[…] (the average American generates at least 100 pounds of plastic waste per year!). Ever since she saw a photo of a dead sea bird with its belly full of plastic pieces, she resolved to stop buying any new plastic and has been spreading all kinds of important tips and […]

I am glad to have found your site. I have spent years thinking and thinking and worrying and worrying more about the environment and EPR and Individual SR and CSR. But have not done anything concrete about spreading the awareness, other than practicing reduced consumption and recycling.
Best wishes in your work.

:: Good Girl Gone Green » Could you go plastic-free? :: 

[…] upon a blog, My Plastic-Free Life, and was very intrigued  by the concept. How could this woman, Beth Terry, eliminate plastic from her life and have a positive impact on the […]

I would be honored to have you on my radio show!!

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